Thursday, November 29, 2007

Well, the forecasts were a bit off- we got about 6" of snow overnight! This was at 7:30 this morning:

It's been snowing steadily all day, and I think it's up to about 8" now. Emma was so excited to see all the snow this morning. She was up at 7:00am sharp, no whining about getting dressed, and was in her snowpants, boots, and coat by 7:15.

She enjoyed almost an hour of snowplay before coming in to eat breakfast and get ready for school.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Winter has arrived! This was yesterday morning's view from my front door. There's still some snow on the ground today, and they're predicting another 2-4 inches tonight and tomorrow.

I spun and plied the dyed Falkland top on Monday. Continuing in my apparent desire to push my spinning boundaries, I spun this long-draw. Long-draw isn't something I've been comfortable doing before, but this time it worked fairly well.

Left to right, that's 4.7oz/260yds, 1.5oz/80yds, and .5oz/33yds, all two ply. The two on the left are one ply each of the blue and the green, and the little skein on the right is the leftovers from the blue bobbin plied on itself.

Not my most even spinning, but miles better than any long-draw I've done before. And even though it's not the most perfect yarn I've ever spun, it is scrumptiously soft and bouncy, and I love the colors, though my camera refuses to capture them correctly. I think this may go into a hat, or possibly mittens. It's definitely next-to-the-skin soft.

Long draw goes so fast! Just an easy sweep back with my left hand while a light touch of my right finger and thumb monitors the amount of twist going into the yarn, a pause at the farthest point of the sweep to let some twist accumulate, then bring my left hand forward to wind the yarn on. I got about a yard of yarn on each draw. My right hand didn't really have anything to do, just provide an occasional anchor point to pull against when I needed to draw out a slub. I'd like to try spinning on a great wheel some time; the left-hand motion is practically the same, and the right hand turns the wheel. (Cyndy's great wheel video is one of my favorites!)

I'll finish off this post with a shot of the box of goodies I got yesterday for being a randomly-picked blogiversary commenter at Weebug Knits. Packages in the mail are so fun!

The yarn is some bright and happy bamboo boucle, the retractable tape measure is something I've been meaning to get for a while, and the little bug pins (dare I say it- wee bug pins- hee hee!) are so cute! The tea went to work with me today, but sadly, the box of yummy chocolates is now empty...

Friday, November 23, 2007

I did a bit of dyeing on Monday, some roving this time. Dyeing roving is not as easy for me as dyeing yarn. I worry the whole time that it is going to felt or pull apart or tangle or fuzz.

The results, though? Delicious.

This is some Falkland roving that I won a while ago, from a contest over at Wool for Brains. Caroline sent me 200 grams of this beautiful, silky, lustrous roving from Wingham Wool Work, all the way from England. It was so lovely in it's natural white state that I almost didn't dye it, but Monday was a cold and gray day, and I wanted to try something new (to me) with dyeing.

My goal was to get two similar but different colors that would blend together when plied, to create an intermediate color. I divided the roving in half (by length), and made the dye for one half blue with a little green, and the other half green with a little blue. This was cold-pour dyeing; I arranged the roving on plastic wrap and dripped on spots of dye, then wrapped the plastic around and smooshed the wool a bit before steaming. This gave a beautiful mottled, tonal variegation. There are spots where the dye is nearly full intensity, and there are spots where there is only the barest flush of color.

I shall have fun spinning this. Thanks Caroline!

In other spinning news, I did another skein of laceweight. This is some Merino roving I found in my fiber closet, that I think came with the lace flyer I bought for my Ashford a couple years ago. Very nice fiber. But wait, what is going on with my wheel?

I have it set up for double drive! I usually spin using single drive (Scotch tension). I actually taught myself to spin on a borrowed double-drive-only wheel in September 2001, and liked it OK, but a couple months later when I bought my Ashford traditional, I had to switch to single drive since that's all it did. Really, at that point, it didn't make a whole lot of difference, since I was still in the beginner lumpy-bumpy over/underspun stage. I was making yarn, and I was happy.

I tried double drive a couple times over the years, and while I could make it work, I didn't feel like I had any control over the process. Scotch tension just felt better. But recently, I've felt like this was a cop-out, to keep using solely one method just because it's what I've always done. I wanted to try again.

So I did, and it worked much better this time. Easy, even. I was able to spin a fine singles (90-100 wpi) with very little effort. The drive band is cheap #5 crochet cotton, tied in a plain square knot. I had to fiddle a bit with the tension and whorl sizes to get it set right, but once I had that sorted out, it went really well. The plying was a bit troublesome because the takeup was so soft, but once I switched up to the next larger flyer whorl, it went fine. I spun the entire little bag of roving into singles on Tuesday evening, and plied it Wednesday evening.

That's 1.5 oz., ~385 yards of ~40 wpi two ply, enough to make a little lacy scarf or weft in something woven. It was really hard to measure the wpi and yardage of this skein, it's so soft and bouncy and stretchy. The skein measures 58" around when relaxed, and 67" around, stretched!

A good reintroduction to double drive, though I still think Scotch tension gives me better, finer control over the draw-in tension.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I haven't been doing a lot of fibery things recently, but I have managed to get the second set of charts done for Mystic Waters.

I like the way this is coming out. The end of the second chart was to be the point where I evaluate my choice of needle size and bead placement, and frog the whole thing if I'm not perfectly pleased. I'm happy (and secretly very relieved) that I will not need to do any frogging. Whew.

This isn't going as fast as MS3 did, even aside from the fact that each right-side row is longer than the one before. I'm finding it very easy to get lost in all the yarnovers, and lose track of where I am in the row. I'm not sure why this is, but the fact that I'm working now (makes me tired in the evenings) and also going to the gym (makes me tired on exercise nights) may have something to do with it.

I also like the way the beads are working out. I'm using #8 seed beads, in a "midnight blue metallic iris" colorway. It's the left-most tube in this picture. The mix of colors- blue, green, and purple- really set off the yarn, and I think using them only in the border will be just enough without being overwhelming or too sparkly.

OK, I'm going to go have a light snack now and start drinking water, in preparation in for my date with the elliptical trainer/evil torture device in a couple hours.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Well this is exciting- my glowlight tetras spawned last night! I have 1 female and 2 males, and for the past month or so, the female has been looking extremely round. I never really considered that they would actually spawn, given my water hardness and neutral pH, but they did last night.

The males were flushed much darker than their usual coloring, and both they and the female had a dark spot at their vents. The males chased the female all over the place, and about every 15 minutes or so, they dove into the plants and she released a cloud of tiny (TINY) eggs. Probably 30-50 at a time.

Of course, the black neon tetras and panda cories followed along behind and ate every egg, but it was still really neat to see. I bought a new tank Sunday (upgraded from 7 gal to a 14 gal , woo hoo!), and the fish seem really happy. The cories (lots of grown-up babies now, which precipitated the desire for a new tank) have lots of room to swim now, and obviously the glowlights are happy with the new digs.....

I took some video:

Sorry for the pretty bad quality, that's the best my digital camera can do on video. And don't mind the algae-covered plants, I'm working on it. The other tank was overstocked from all the cory babies, and had a recurring algae problem. And yes, I'll be getting more plants and a background- I just set up this tank a day and a half ago, after all, give me a break!

I have no plans to try and raise glowlight fry. I have enough on my hands with panda cory fry. The 7-gal tank has become the new fry tank.....a step up from the 2.5 gal.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Good morning! I was awake early today, rescuing my laundry from the clothesline. The windy season has begun in La Grande, and we're expected to have 25-40 mph gusts today. It's at 28 mph right now, and has subsided some since I got up. I don't consider it really windy until the fireplace starts whistling. Anyway, the wind woke me up at 5:30, and I went out to bring in the laundry. It was exhilarating. The temp was 41˚ F, so not too cold, and the air felt wonderfully alive in the blustery cool dark.

Plus, I wasn't sleepy anymore so I just stayed up, and got to see the sun rise about an hour later. This was the view from my front door at 6:40 am.

What a treat.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Quick list:
  1. I have joined the gym here and will supposedly be starting to exercise regularly again. Actually, Shaun joined the gym, and dragged me along onto his membership, kicking and screaming (whining and couchpotato-ing). I would love to lose some weight and regain some energy, though, so I'll do it. I went to a spin class (exercise-bike-spin-class, not my preferred kind of spin class that involves yarn) last night, and it was painful. My rear went numb from the uncomfortable bike seat, my legs were screaming at me this morning, and my sit-bones still hurt. I cringe at the thought of getting back on that bike tomorrow. It was a good workout, though. We'll see if I can keep up with it.
  2. Knit a bit more on Mystic Waters, and am about halfway through the second set of charts. Still liking the pattern, though it's taking a bit of concentration to keep track of my place on the chart.
  3. I have another idea for a hat percolating in my brain, and may write it up as a formal pattern.
  4. Work continues to be good. I got a lot accomplished in my four hours today.
  5. That's really about it. I'm tired. I'm out of interesting things to say.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I've been spending much longer than thought I was going to on Ravelry. It's just so nice to be able to browse all kinds of patterns in one place, see how they look in different yarns, and most of all- click away to bookmark the ones I like.

I've decided that my next lace project after Mystic Waters MUST be the Forest Path Stole. It's been lurking around in my mind for a while, whispering to me, but the more I look at the projects in my Ravelry queue, the more it calls to me. All those beautiful leaves.

I must knit this. Possibly in handspun. I have all that Merino x Columbia, don'tcha know. And a ball of tussah silk top for blending.

Now to get my hands on that pattern...... My library doesn't carry Interweave Knits, so no free magazine pattern for me.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I finally got back to spinning the Ashland Bay colonial top (colorway Northern Lights) that I started in Friday Harbor this past summer, and finished it up this weekend. I spun this much (much, much) thicker than anything else I've spun in recent memory. Years, even. I wanted a nice heavy yarn, possibly suitable for an outdoor sweater for Emma. I'm not sure there's enough here for a sweater, but there's definitely enough for a vest for Emma or a hat for Shaun (if he wants one) plus leftovers.

505 yards
16 oz
6 wpi (after washing)
24 wpi singles

It's 3-ply, a nice squooshy round knitting yarn, and can I just say again- MUCH thicker than I usually spin! I'm actually pretty proud of myself, because this is so far out of my comfort range. I have a much harder time spinning thick than thin.

Despite the thickness (only 6 wpi!!), I managed to keep it soft, and it feels great. It's balanced, and poofed up nicely in the wash. It was weird going from spinning the froghair fine Merino x Columbia I just did, to this. My smallest whorl to my biggest.

I have also started another lace knitting project, another mystery-along. I came across a mention on Ravelry of the Mystic Waters shawl, and joined on up. (Actually, I also signed up for the Secret of the Stole mystery-along, and had the first clue knitted, but I wasn't feeling much love for the design or the needle size I was using, so it's been frogged already. I'll wait to see the whole thing done, and if I decide I like it, I'll start again on smaller needles. I especially didn't like the two points on the end. Three might have been OK, but two wasn't working for me. I like odd numbers.) (Aside #2: Why am I signing up for all these "alongs" all of a sudden?)

Anyway, I have started Mystic Waters. I waited for the first two clues to be released to see if I liked the way the pattern was shaping up. I did, so I cast on. I'm using the Princess Blue merino/silk laceweight I spun over the summer, and it's working beautifully. I have finished the first chart.

I modified the pattern by adding beads (8/0 midnight blue metallic iris) to the border diamonds. I think the beads added a lot to the Mystery Stole, just that little bit of weight that made it drape beautifully. As of right now, I'm not planning to add the beads anywhere except the border, because I don't want them to overpower the handspun yarn or the design. This is on US2 Addi Lace needles, though I could probably have gone down to US1's. I'll finish the first clue or two, and if it looks too open, I am committed to starting over. This is special yarn, and I don't want to knit something with it that I'm not perfectly happy about.

This is the larger of the two skeins, 1825 yards. That's more than enough for Mystic Waters (1300 yds recommended), and with the leftovers and the second skein (832 yds) I should still have enough for the warp or weft of a woven shawl.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I made several little Loomette squares a couple days ago, with some of the leftovers from my hat, and yesterday I turned them into these:

Both have a lavender sachet packet inside. Yes, I'm still using the lavender I harvested from my garden in Friday Harbor! It's been living in the freezer, and smells as strong as when I picked it.

The one on top is two plainweave squares, one of which has an embroidered lavender flower (#5 perle cotton, freehanded). The other is made up of two pattern weaves, even though the pattern doesn't show up too well with the variegated yarn. One side has a twill diamond on a plainweave background:

The other side is an allover 3-1 twill, which shows up a bit better.

The lavender has an interesting story- When we sold our house in Friday Harbor, I rooted several cuttings from the big lavender plant, the gorgeous fragrant one that the lavender in these sachets comes from. I gave one of the cuttings to my sister and kept one for myself. My little plantlet met an unfortunate end last March, when Emma and I were in Maine for six weeks and Shaun was in charge of watering the houseplants here in Oregon. I was quite sad to lose my lavender plant, since it came from the very first house I ever owned.

But, my sister still had a cutting! Hers was thriving in Philadelphia. When she got married last month, we put sprigs of lavender in her bouquet, from my/her plant. I brought two of those sprigs home with me, through three airports and two dry and cramped airplanes. I stuck them in flowerpots with plastic bag mini-greenhouses over them, set them on my bathroom windowsill, and let them be (watering when dry).

I took the bags off this past weekend, and the sprigs seem to be rooted, and have started growing.

From my first owned home in Friday Harbor, to my sister's first owned home in Philadelphia, to her wedding bouquet, to my home in Oregon. Lavender with history. This makes me happy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

You are now reading the blog of an employed person!! My first day was today, and it went well. I'm going to be working part time for now, and it seems like it will be good. I have a desk and everything! I even have a project already- the environmental reports and permits for a diversion dam removal and fish-friendly replacement on a creek near the Hood River.

I drop off Emma at preschool at 8:30, go to work, the daycare transports her from preschool to daycare at 11:30, and I pick her up from daycare at 1:00.

The people at the company are nice, seem happy to be working there, and it's a pleasant environment. I'm excited!